Q1: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

Ans: Ekaru is an IT and cybersecurity firm serving small businesses in the greater Boston area. Our mission is to provide great service and technical advice, right-sized for local businesses – “not to big and not too small”.

Q2: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

Ans: Westerheim is an MIT trained engineer with many years of experience in advanced technology. After many years working in the semiconductor industry I started a consulting company to combine my interests as a technology enthusiast and helping people adopt technology. With thousands of patents generated each year by technology giants, my mission is to help the “last mile” of technology adoption with small businesses.

Q3: What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

Ans: After years working in advanced development, I wanted to work in a role where I directly help people TODAY. My mission is to help ensure smaller organizations benefit from technology advances just like big organizations, and level the playing field.

Q4: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Ans: 1) Learn how to get back up after you fall down. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have a lot of failures and a lot of situations that you don’t know how to handle and just have to “figure it out”. Learn from mistakes and move on.

2) If your dream is to be an entrepreneur, there’s no perfect time. Take action and get started.

3) Find a peer group. Watch out for all the wannabes that have advice for you but no experience. Find some like minded entrepreneurs to share your ups and downs with, and help generate new ideas. When you have a big job to start a business and you’re not doing an IPO a week later, you’ll need people in your circle who really understand what this is about.

Q5:What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: 1) Be able to take feedback, criticism, and failure and LEARN from it. Mistakes are often the fastest way to find the right track. This isn’t school where one bad grade takes down your average – there’s always the next challenge!

2) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In the tech space, a lot of people aren’t “comfortable” with sales – if you don’t have sales, you don’t have a business.

3) Get clear on where you’re headed – can you communicate a vision to your team? Can you identify the most important things to work on? Distractions and overconsumption can hurt you more than a drought. Know where you’re headed!

Q6: How many hours do you work a day on average?

Ans: I typically work a regular 8-9 hour work day, but I’m always reading and getting ideas outside of regular working hours. I think that’s a big difference about being an entrepreneur and “having a job” – it doesn’t really stop a the end of the “work day”.

Q7:To what do you most attribute your success?

Ans: A strong education in my field, and a true desire to help people. I’m a technology optimist and I want to see others successful with technology. This helps for moving forward in tough times with projects, clients, and employees. I enjoy what I’m doing, and feel like I’m making a difference EVERY DAY!.

Q8: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Ans: Our biggest focus in marketing is on education. I’ve been writing a newsletter at least monthly since the company started. We host training events, post videos, and try to develop a technology conversation with all our clients.

Q9: Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

Ans: We’ve boot strapped the business all the way. In a service business, you can start small and keep building the client base. We’ve been very measured in our growth, and what kinds of projects we take on.

Q10: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

Ans: Offer a product or service that truly benefits people. Listen to your clients and what’s happening in the industry and help them get what they need, even when they may not be aware of it clearly. Deliver on what you promise, and humbly accept feedback when you can improve.

Q11: Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

Ans: In 5-10 years I’d like to see us supporting a wider geography, with enhanced business processes for even better customer service.

Q12: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Ans: I love Apple! Apple makes technology cool and fun. Building products that are intuitive and easy to use is actually very hard from the engineering side, but from the consumer side we all benefit. There’s always something new and exciting coming out. I remember when I got my first air pods – you just take them out and they work! No driver updates and crazy things like that.

Q13: How important have good employees been to your success?

Ans: When I was starting out, I had the opportunity to speak to many successful entrepreneurs and they had one thing in common related to their success – great employees. The big thing in a service industry is people actually really need to care and have enthusiasm. You can’t train for that.

Q14: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

Ans: This is a tough one, because sometimes it’s just not clear. You may need to stick with it just a little longer, or you may be dealing with something that will never work. Try to look at the data and the trends to be objective and not get to “attached” to your idea.

Q15: What motivates you?

Ans: I’ve always loved teaching and helping people. When we can make a difference for a client, that’s immediate satisfaction.

Q16: What are your ideals?

Ans: Keep your promises, be fair, and be helpful.

Q17: How do you generate new ideas?

Ans: Attending industry events is so important in the fast-changing world of technology. I find that I generate so many ideas when I connect with others. I also love to read about business and technology.

Q18: How do you define success?

Ans: Success to me is making a positive difference. Helping other people, solving a problem, making someone day a little brighter, that’s success.

Q19: How do you build a successful customer base?

Ans: It’s very important to take on projects that are a fit. A business can’t be everything to everyone. As you grow a customer base, make sure that long term clients don’t get neglected. Along the way its important to step up processes to ensure you can deliver.

Q20: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Ans: I love the creativity of being an entrepreneur. Each day I get to figure something out that I didn’t know how to do. Connecting the dots or seeing a problem from a different perspective is fun. I always liked puzzles, and sometimes running a business can be like solving a puzzle.

Q21: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Ans: When I see an employee really excel in a project that’s a great moment for me. Creating an environment where people can grow and help others is satisfying. It’s not about me.

Q22: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Ans: I think when your ideas are so strong that you just can’t set them aside, you’ll have that bug to be an entrepreneur.

Q23: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

Ans: As our company has grown a bit, I’ve learned how important it is to help establish culture. Culture gets created no matter what, but it may not head in the right direction without conscious effort. I’m a fan of Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up / Rockefeller habits. “Figure it out” is important for us as one of our core values. Its more than one dimensional – “Figure it out” is part of our mission to solve a problem, and its also a nod to the fact that we will face things every day that we don’t immediately have the answer to. Teamwork is also really important – with the fast changing pace of technology, no one person can know it all – we have to work together effectively. We do daily huddles and weekly meetings and do a “what went well” to relate a positive experience back to core values. This is a work in progress, and worth the effort.

Q24:In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

Ans: Exciting (both ups and downs!)

Q25: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Ans: Move more boldly and be less afraid of risk. I was always a great student, and it was hard for me to accept any failure. In school, one bad grade brings down your gradepoint average, and in real life, it doesn’t work like that. Learn from a mistake and move on. Remember the Amazon Fire Phone? Didn’t work out and doesn’t matter.

Q26: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Ans: I’m very proud that my children have been able to see me juggle family life and build a business at the same time. There are no Pidgeon holes for people – You can make it work.

Q27: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Ans: My fear is that there will be some change in the market or industry that we’ll miss and fall behind. The pace of technology advancement is so fast.

Q28: How did you decide on the location for your business?

Ans: I started this business as a mom of young children so being able to work locally was really important for me. In my old role in the semiconductor industry, I had a significant commute, long hours, and significant travel requirements. Staying “in the game” of technology AND have a great family life are so important to me.

Q29: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: Stick with it when others think you’re crazy. I left a big position and some people questioned that – if you know you’re on the right track, go for it. I have another friend who build a VERY successful business who at one point was in a lot of debt and had to downsize. Most people would say just get a regular job.

Q30: If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?

Ans: Leonardo DaVinci – What inspired all your ideas?

Q31: Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Ans: Steve Jobs – He made technology cool. He was able to inspire a team with very high standards (albeit with a complicated personality) and deliver products that have changed the world.

Q32: What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

Ans: I can’t think of just one, but one book I read recently that made a big impact was “Building a Storybrand”. I really like how the customer is at the center of the “story”. How do we actually help the customer – we’re not the “experts” who solve technical problems for them, we’re the team that helps make them successful in THEIR business and dreams.

Q33: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

Ans: I take too long to make decisions. Being afraid of making mistakes holds me back. Working on that!

Q34: How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?

Ans: Talk to the customer and be transparent when there’s a problem. Mistakes can’t be completely eliminated but lessons can be learned. We do a “critical event review” whenever we have a support crisis. Was there a warning sign of an impending problem? Any safeguard we can put in place to help prevent the situation from happening again?

Q35:What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

Ans: I love walking. In the neighborhood, on trails, in the mountains. It’s a form of meditation and exercise. I don’t like running, but walking is great! Reading, and gardening are also fun.

Q36:What makes you happy?

Ans: Helping people and feeling like I’m making a positive difference. Sometimes I joke about Thomas the Tank Engine – a really useful engine. Just being useful.

Q37: What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: Leaving a professional job to start a company from scratch was difficult, especially with three young children. It was clear that the fit wasn’t right for me at the big company with commute and travel requirements, but it was hard to give up the stability and prestige of the job and jump into an environment where I felt like I never knew what I was doing. That said, I’ve never been bored, and it’s taken me a long time to build of the client base, but I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Q38:If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

Ans: Was there ever a moment where you thought the business just wasn’t going to work and is it worth it? Learning to look at the numbers and trends objectively will help to make rational decisions. I think every entrepreneur has had moments of great frustration, and I always think it’s important to learn from it and move on. I think of what Billie Jean King said in a talk I heard – she tells people she coaches to examine the mistake, learn from it, then forget about it and move on. Same is true for business. Get good at understanding the numbers (always emphasized on Shark Tank), and you’ll see things more clearly.

Company : Ekaru

Address : 319 Littleton Rd

City : Westford

State : MA

Country: United States

Zip : 01886

Phone : 9786924200

Email : awesterheim@ekaru.com